First International Workshop on Ascomycete Systematics

First International Workshop on Ascomycete Systematics


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Volume 8, Part 1, February 1994


International Mycological Institute, Bakeham Lane, Egham, Surrey TW20 9TY. 2 Museum National D'Histoire Naturelle, 12 rue Buffon, 75 005 Paris

Systematics is often considered something of a backwater of science, with little scope for original thinking and the application of rigorously scientific procedures. That 139 mycologists from 26 countries participated in the First International Workshop on Ascomycete Systematics, organized in the NATO Advanced Research Workshops Series in Paris on 10-14 May 1993, showed the subject to be vibrant and challenging. Indeed, the popularity of the meeting was almost an embarrassment to the Organizing Committee which had originally not expected more than about 60. The meeting was an extraordinarily stimulating event. We were especially fortunate in being able to bring together almost all the world's specialists in ascomycete systematics in one place for the first time. The stimulus of the Workshop arose through three basic elements, all embodied in it: (l) exposure to the wide range of techniques available in systematics; (2) the meeting together of yeast, lichen, medical, plant pathological and other systematists to learn from and comment on each other's approaches; and (3) frank discussion of some 1530 changes proposed to the classification, as reflected in the Outline ofthe Ascomycetes, since 1990. All learnt a great deal. Many participants were exposed for the first time to the powerful systematic results that can be obtained not only from molecular biology, but also from ultrastructure, secondary chemistry, and ontogenetic approaches. These were presented in a series of 26 paper presentations. There were particularly valuable discussions on the scientific approach to systematics, i.e. the production of hypotheses by cladistic or intuitive methods and then testing their robustness by independent data sets. It was surprising for many to see the considerable contrasts in approaches in different groups, for example yeasts us. discomycetes, and there is no doubt that many participants left with a clear

view that they should become increasingly rigorous in their systematic work before proposing changes in classification - if they wished them to be rapidly adopted by their peers. The impact will thus be long-term, and can be expected to lead to developments in and more objective approaches to the evaluation of classifications in lichenized and non-lichenized ascomycetes. This was a unique event in that two days were devoted to an experiment in discussing proposed changes to the classification of a large group of organisms at the genus level and above. This was made possible by a compilation of those changes into a 110 page document, abstracted from the 'Notes' in Systema Ascomycetum, especially for the Workshop, and then participants discussing these openly under the guidance of designated discussion leaders. This appears to be the first time this has been tried in any group of organisms. Debates were frank, sometimes impassioned, but finally objective. The interactive process was especially important as many of those who had new, and sometimes radical, ideas were able to be quizzed on them by their peers. These detailed discussions occupied two days, and the edited transcripts, to be included in the proceedings, will provide guidance to the authors preparing the next edition of the Outline of the Ascomycetes, and also to the compilers ofthe Dictionary of the Fungi, as to changes to be adopted in these works. The proceedings of the Workshop are being published by Plenum Press in the NATO ARW series; it is hoped that the volume will be available in the Spring of 1994. Together with our colleagues on the Organizing Committee (Professor A. Bellemare, Dr M.-A. Letrouit-Galinou, Professor Dr H. Hertel and Professor J. Taylor) we wish to acknowledge support for the Workshop given by NATO, IUMS, CNRS, and the Universite de Paris VI.

Plate 1 Participants at the Ascomycete Workshop. First row: D.L. Hawksworth (UK), M.-A. Letrouit-Galinou (France), A. Bellernere (France), A. Henssen (Germany). Second row: M.E. Barr-Bigelow (Canada), P.F. Cannon (UK), J. Poelt (Austria), W.B. Kendrick (Canada), J. Mouchacca (France). Third row: E. Timdal (Norway), H. Hertel (Germany), G. Rambold (Germany), J. Hafellner (Austria), J. Poelt (Austria), D.J. Galloway (UK), N. Lundqvist (Sweden), A.J. Whalley (UK). Fourth row: Y. Brygoo (France), M. Blackwell (USA), O. Eriksson (Sweden), S. Landvik (Sweden), J. Spatafora (uSA), C.P. Kurtzman (uSA), M.L. Berbee (Canada), J. Taylor (USA), D. Reynolds (USA)

Plate 2 More Participants at the Ascomycete Workshop. First row: unidentified, S. Ott (Germany), A. Tehler (Sweden), T. Ahti (Finland), P. Johnston (New Zealand), A.Y. Rossman (USA). Second row: RP. Korf (USA), J. van Brummelen (Netherlands), unidentified, E. Serusiaux (Belgium), P.M. Jargenssn (Norway), E. Timal (Norway). Third row: I. Raitvlir (Estonia), B. Kullman (Estonia), L. Tibell (Sweden), B.C. Lodha (India), J. Spatafora and family (USA). Fourth row: M. Welin (Sweden), C.van Haluwyn (France), R Lumbsch (Germany), upper B.M: Spooner (UK), RO. Baral (Germany), G. Marson (Luxembourg), T. Loymeyer (Germany), lower J. Rogers & wife (USA), J.W. Kimbrough & wife (USA). Fifth row: D.N. Malloch (Canada), Y. Rorie (Japan), S.-I. Udagawa (Japan), W. Gams (Netherlands), P. Crous (S. Africa), M. Wingfield (S. Africa), P.F. Cannon (UK)